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19 October 1999

Tough Action against Hard Disk Freeloaders

The Intellectual property and Intellectual Trade Court (IP/IT) has issued a new get tough message to computers dealers engaging in the practice of hard disk loading. An order fining SS Digital Company to pay 400,000 baht in fines to Microsoft has been entered.

The Company was found liable for copyright infringement after Microsoft Corporation filed civil charges alleging that the Company had had loaded unlicensed Microsoft software on their compuer hard drives.

Hard disk loading is when a computer dealer illegally copy programs ion their hard disks as an incentive to potential customers to purchase their computers.

The decision follows an earlier decision against ATEC Computer Company and its Director resulting in a fine of 1 million baht and an 18 month jail term. The jail term was suspended.

The case was part of a worldwide initiative by Microsoft to clean up copyright piracy. Microsoft representative have praised the Thai Court system as being one of the most efficient in the region.


13 October 1999

New E-commerce drafting committees streamlined

In an effort to speed up the drafting of Thailand's expected new E-commerce laws, The National Information Technology Committee (NITC) has approved a restructuring of the sub-committees appointed to be in charge of the drafting of said laws

The old committees were considered too limited in their scope and power. The newly restructured committees also have more members who are experts from the Thai Judicial system.

Six acts are currently being drafted: Electronic Signature, Computer Crime, Electronic Transfer of Funds, Electronic Transactions Act and Information Infrastructure.

In addition, NITC has approved a proposal for an Internet Policy Task Force to develop guidelines and policies for the Internet in Thailand.


13 October 1999

Regulations drafted concerning Money Laundering Act

The Council of State has completed drafting the ministerial regulations regarding the minimum cash and asset transactions to be reported to the Anti-Money Laundering Office.

The 10 regulations involved are expected to be sent to cabinet for approval his month.

Under the regulations, any transaction of cash exceeding two million baht and assets worth more than five million baht handled by financial institutions, and offices or financial consultant firms must be reported to the Anti-Money Laundering Office.

New version of Alien Business Bill sent to Senate

After having been scrutinized by a joint committee, a new version of the alien Business bill will be tabled for Senate consideration on Friday.

Under the current version of the proposed bill, the term "alien" was defined as persons or juristic persons not holding Thai nationality, not registered in Thailand and holding more than one half the shares or investment in business.


6 October 1999

New Y2K bill proposed

Drafted by the private sector in conjunction with the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (Nectec), the bill contains 32 articles to protect consumers and end users as well as curtail damage to the country's economic, security, communications and public services.

The propsed bill requires computer vendors and service providers to disclose all information on the Y2K bug as they would be held responsible for any damage resulting from the Y2K bug.


21 September 1999

New Bankruptcy Court receives over 150 cases

During the first three months of the operation of Thailand's new bankruptcy court, a total of 151 cases have been filed. The cases are comprised of 137 bankruptcy cases and 14 were requests for court-ordered rehabilitation. 22 bankruptcy cases have been settled.

Plaintiffs included 84 financial institutions, 23 registered companies or partnership, 19 individuals and 11 states agencies.


2 September 1999

New Y2K Law is Reduced in Scope

Disclosure by businesses of their Y2K status will be protect them against claims for damages under the final draft of the Y2k bill to be submitted to the Prime Minister this week. Additionally, several consumer protection measures have been deleted form the new version of the bill.

The final draft of the bill states that all private and public companies must disclose their Y2K status, including verification, methods and the results of testing before December 31, 1999.

However, consumer protection actions were removed from the bill based on the rationale that the Consumer Protection Act already covers many of these situations. The bill is intended to encourage organizations to reveal their Y2K status to the public.

Entertainment Bill

A bill drafted by a subcommittee on the development of children, women and the underprivileged has been drafted by a team of law experts and rights activists. Sex workers are being encouraged to have a say in a draft amendment bill on entertainment placed which is aimed at legalizing their status and affording them protection under the labor protection act.

Drafters of the act have stated that the three main objectives of the act are to 1) impose stricter control measures on entertainment places, 2) bar minors from involvement in the sex trade and 3) insure the welfare of all entertainment service workers.


27 August 1999

Officials Report Drop in Intellectual Property Crime

Government Officials have reported a decrease in the number of intellectual property cases filed in the first half of this year. Only 800 cases have been reported this year as compared with 1,000 during the same period last year. Police Lt-Col. Vicha Puwaset, deputy superintendent of the Economic Crime Invertigation Division has stated that in addition to stricter enforcement and surveillence, copyright and trademark holders have been more aggressive in pursuing claims against persons engaged in pirating activities.

Pol. Lt. Col. Vicha added speculated that Intellectual Properrtty issues will become increasingly important as trade liberalization and globalization trends continue.

Thailand has long been known as a haven for pirated clothing, watches, videotapes and computer software. Foreign companies attempting to control pirating of their goods typically employ local law firms to act as their representatives.

In a recent raid on Panthip Plaza, a Bangkok shopping mall specializing in computer goods, more than 60-70 proprietors with more than 100,000 illegal software programs were found. However, the majority of the perpetrators were released because software publishers were not available to press charges.

Enforcing pirating violations is becoming more difficult as production has been shifting to other countries such as Laos and Vietnam. Persons arrested are usually people at the end of the distribution chain, while the influential persons who control the operations often avoid legal consequences.


18 August 1999

Food Act Amendments

The newly amended Food Act is expected to take effect this year. It is anticipated that exporters will have more flexibility and less red tape than under the old act.

The newly amended act focuses on food standards while attempting to reduce the amount of paperwork. Requirements of overseas importers take priority and food origins must be traceable in case of irregularities. The secretary general of the Food and Drug Administration said export permission would no longer be mandatory but exporters must report their export plans to the agency within 15 days of shipment. Food advertising will not require permission but there will be penalties for misleading and exaggerated advertisements.

Legislation to Control Executives of State Enterprises

Yesterday the government provisionally approved a bill to set limits on the terms of executives of state enterprises. The bill also provides for a bar on executives from accepting employment in private companies for a set period after leaving a government enterprise. The purpose of this provision is to prevent exploitation of their knowledge of state secrets. Under the proposed version of the new Act, top executives would be limited to a four year term, while the bar on obtaining work in the private sector after leaving their state enterprise positions would be 2-3 years.


17 August 1999

Definitions of Aliens Debated by Senate

Legal entities with less than 50% foreign ownership but nebertheless exercising majority control over Thai owners may be deemed to be aliens under the new version of the alien business law currently being examined by a senate panel.

Wallop Tangkananurak, a panel member, stated that the change would be in accord with current business conditions, with many businesses coming under control of foreign entities without said foreign entities necessarily holding majority shares.

Other changes by the Senate Committee includes raising the investment of a foreign businessmand to three million.

Amendments to the New Patents Law Protested by Consumer Groups

Groups of Health and Aids organization and other consumers petitioned the prime minister to review amendments to the Psatents Law which they believe will make new drugs mor expensive and less accessible.

Saree Ongsomwang of the Foundation for Consumers said the government should take responsibility for signing the trade agreements on intellectual preoperty rights (Trips) by introducing special measure to control and reduce prices of life-saving drugs in Thailand. As a member of the WTO, Thailand is obliged to make changes in its intellectual property laws before the year 2000.

Under the Patents Law amendment, drugs patented in an any country will automatically receive protection in Thailand. Mr. Saree said the legislative changes required by the WTO would disband the Pharmaceutical Patent Committee which had direct control over drug prices and prevented monopoly. The committee also has authority to order compulsory licensing of drugs so that companies with patent rights would have to make the drugs fully available in Thailand or must allow other companies to manufacture and distribute them in Thailand.


2 August 1999

Enforcement of New Money Laundering Law

Thailand's new money laundering act will take effect on August 20, 1999. Under the new law certain transactions will have to be reported to authorities. Currently, the Finance Ministry is discussing with legal experts the minimum amount of transactions that will have to be reported. Possibilities include 500,000, one million, or two million baht. The scope of the law is intended to clamp down on corruption and drug trafficking.


9 July 1999

Final Touches On Y2K Bill

A final draft of the Y2K bill is being prepared by the Naional Electronics and Computer Centre (NECTEC) and is expected to be presented to the prime minister for consideration this morning. Under the final draft of the bill, both private and public sector companies and agencies must diclose their Y2K staus prior to December 1, 1999. Agencies and companies would be protected from damage claims if they disclose their Y2K status.

Consumers would also be allowed to sue relevant companies and agencies if they have sufferred damages as a result of innacurate disclosure information.

Under the bill, Y2K cases would be under the authority of the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court. Judges with special computer expertise are being recruited to handle Y2K cases.

Raids on Software Pirates Stepped Up

According to an industry spokesman, a police crackdown dubbed "Maximum Disruption" has put increase pressure on software pirates. Metropolitan police have performed some 90 raids against shps selling illegal software. More than 19,000 counterfeit CD-Roms have been seized and multiple arrests have been made. Most of the raids have occurred at Pantip Plaza and Tawana.

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